How to Use a Caulk Gun

Whether you are dealing with cracks around doors, windows, or bathtubs, you are going to need caulk to patch them up. Although you can use a caulk tube with bare hands, using a caulk gun will make the process a whole lot convenient and effective.

Given that you have all the required supplies like a putty knife, caulk tube, and caulk gun at your disposal, the whole procedure to use a caulk gun revolves around three steps; cleaning and masking and affected area, loading the caulk gun, and finally, applying the caulk.

However, there is much more to it than it seems. Below, we will be taking a dig into everything that you need to know about using a caulk gun, from the get-go to the very end of your hole-sealing project.

So, let’s get started!

Required Supplies

  • Putty Knife
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Disinfectant
  • Hot Water
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Caulking Tube
  • Caulk Gun
  • Plastic Scraper
  • Scissors
  • Piece of Paper
  • Metal spoon

Cleaning and Taping the Concerned Area

Step 1: Clean Off the Old Caulk

Before applying the new caulk to the crack you are dealing with, make sure that any old caulk that might have been covering the crack, is removed.

Doing so would allow you to avoid adding a new layer of caulk over a vulnerable foundation. Also, it’ll help you figure out exactly how much caulk you are going to need.

So, accordingly, using a putty knife, lift up one end of the old caulk and from there on, push the knife all the way to the other end until all the caulk has been removed. If you are finding it difficult to take off the caulk, feel free to use a caulk softener.

If you are dealing with silicon caulking, you will want to use needle-nose pliers to pull out the strip of old caulk.

Step 2: Wash down the Crack

With the old caulk removed, prepare a bucket of hot water. Using a clean rag, apply the rubbing alcohol and a disinfectant on the crack. Then, immerse a different rag in the hot water and wash the crack with it.

Finally, use another clean rag to dry off the crack.

Once you are done, if there is any caulk or dirt left, you can use a plastic scraper to remove it.

Step 3: Apply Painting Tape

Now, to make the whole caulking process more precise and aesthetic, apply one long strip of painter’s tape above the crack and one below the crack.

This tape will keep the area surrounding the crack from coming into contact with the caulk.

Note that if you are using silicon caulk, remove the tape immediately after the caulking process. Else, it won’t come off neatly.

Loading the Caulk Gun

Step 1: Press the Release Trigger

Press the small trigger at the back of the caulk gun to cause the steel rod, running through the entire gun, to loosen up.

With your other hand, pull this rod outward as far as you can.

Step 2: Inserting the Caulking Tube

While holding the steel rod back, place the caulking tube into the frame, with the side containing the nozzle pointing away from you. The flat side of the tube goes in first.

With the caulking tube in place, push the metal rod back into the caulking tube such that the hook sticks deep in the back.

This hook will not only keep the caulk in place but also helps in the functioning of the bottom trigger.

Step 3: Cut the Front of the Nozzle

A caulking tube comes with a long-sealed nozzle at the front. You can cut it, using scissors, at any point from the nozzle according to the required width of the caulk that comes out.

Whichever width you choose, be sure to make the cut at a 45o angle.

It is recommended that you go with a smaller cut as you can always make it bigger later on but not smaller.

Step 4: Puncture Any Seal

Push a nail or pin through the cut opening of the caulk tube to puncture any sort of seal in the tube. Doing so will allow the caulk to flow more freely.

Applying the Caulk

Step 1: Practice Beforehand

Before you go on to applying the caulk on your cracks, it’s better that you are aware of how your caulk gun works.

Accordingly, get yourself a piece of paper, hold the gun at a 45o angle, and press the trigger at the back of the gun. Move the gun consistently in one direction to allow a steady stream of caulk to come out.

Be sure not to move the caulk gun either too fast or too slow; instead, find a balance between the two.

Step 2: Apply the Caulk on the Desired Crack

Holding the caulk gun at a 45o angle against one end of the crack, make sure that one of your hands is by the trigger while the other is grabbing the gun from the end.

With the caulk gun in place, press the trigger in a controlled manner and move the gun along the crack. The caulk should come out of the nozzle steadily, as a result.

If you can’t squeeze the trigger anymore, release it and when it springs back in its original place, resume the process.

Try to ensure that you cover the entire crack in one single go so that it fills up evenly. If not, fret not, you can always tackle the missing spots in the second try.

Step 3: Smooth the Applied Caulk

Place a small metal spoon in hot water for about a minute and then, run its curved edge along the caulking line to smooth it out.

You can also wet your finger and move it along the caulk line for the same purpose.

Step 4: Remove the Painter’s Tape

With the caulk applied and smoothed over, you don’t need the painter’s tape anymore. So, strip it off and allow the caulk to dry.

Normally, any type of caulk takes at least 24 hours to completely harden.

Important Tips to Keep in Mind

Now that you have gone through every single one of the steps involved in using a caulk gun, here are four tips that you can keep in mind for better results.

  • If you feel like the cracks are not completely filled with caulk, you can use a wet rag to flush the caulk line with the surrounding surface and push the caulk deeper into the cracks.
  • Only release the caulk gun trigger once you have applied the caulk. Otherwise, the drippings can mess up the caulk line.
  • How firmly you squeeze the trigger and how fast you move the gun determines the amount of caulk applied to each spot on the crack line. The harder you squeeze the trigger and the slower you move the gun, the more the caulk will be applied to any given spot.
  • There are different types of caulks available in the market, including silicon caulk and acrylic caulk. So, choose the one that better suits your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you Caulk without a Gun?

Yes, you can. However, that would make the process less efficient as a caulk gun applies even pressure on the caulk tube, resulting in a smoother finish.

What Happens if You Get Caulk Wet Before it Dries?

Well, in that case, it won’t work as intended. It could take a lot longer to dry or in the worst-case scenario, it could compromise the quality of your seal. If the latter happens, you’ll have to re-do the whole project.

How Do I Remove a Caulk Tube from a Caulk Gun?

Press the small trigger at the back of the gun to loosen up the steel rod and then, pull it out. If the steel rod is pulled out but the caulk gun doesn’t fully come out, it could be stuck inside.

Grab it from its nozzle and push it up towards the tip of the gun.


If you have read up to this point, then you would have probably realized that using a caulk tube is a relatively straightforward process.

All you have to do is prepare the affected area, load the caulk gun and just apply the caulk along the crack line steadily. Also, by keeping the tips, mentioned in this guide, in your mind, you’ll be able to achieve a much better output.

Liam Weissman

Hello and welcome to PowerToolGenius! My name is Liam and for the last 9 years, I have worked extensively with various power tools and accessories. I have tested hundreds of different brands and models and understand the industry extensively and have been working with tools my entire life!

Recent Posts